• The overshirt is the best winter jacket. It shapes up to be the must-have piece of the FW 2020 season. Retailers are ahead of the game, devoting more attention and shelf space to the casual shirt-jacket combination.
• There wasn’t much change in the number of outdoor-article offerings between 2019 and 2020.
• Polyester is the most frequently used material in the outdoor category, with wool coming in second. As concerns about sustainability and environmental impact come to the forefront, should fashion brands focus on utilizing more natural fabrics and rely less on petroleum-based materials?
Temperatures are dropping, and people are on the hunt for the perfect winter jacket to elevate their wardrobe. Should customers opt for a classic belted wool coat for brisk walks in the park or a trendy puffer jacket for an outfit-of-the-day post on Instagram?
What’s different this year? The coronavirus pandemic is keeping everyone indoors, making it challenging for retailers to market heavy outdoor gear. Therefore, what are the trends in outerwear this fall/winter season, and what pieces are worth the investment?
Versatile jackets take center stage as coats lose assortment to share.
Every year when September rolls around, retailers start launching their new outdoor collection. As the weather changes from summer to fall, the first arrivals are generally lightweight transitional jackets, followed by heavy puffers and wool coats later in the season.
Looking at the evolution of outdoor new arrivals, on the one hand, the assortment share of heavier coats and formal jackets is dropping. On the other hand, other types of jackets (casual, leather, and denim) are gaining popularity, especially more versatile styles.
According to Retviews data, casual jackets have gained almost 3% of the assortment share for mass-market brands. As a counterpart, the share of coats dropped nearly by the same amount.
One explanation for this change is the work-from-home situation. Customers are now less interested in purchasing articles made solely for outdoor use. Thus, this makes more versatile pieces — such as comfy jackets and overshirts more attractive.
However, it’s noteworthy that outdoor article share only decreased by 3% between 2019 and 2020.
With retailers discounting more than in 2019, shouldn’t we expect more of a drop in that category than last year’s winter collection? What explains the decision to produce articles at nearly the same level?
One possibility is that retailers decided to produce nearly as many products, but in a smaller quantity, to offer more choice and diversity. It might be a good strategy but can also be a risky one. Only retailers know those numbers.
The overshirt, the best winter jacket, keeps trending upward.
The overshirt — or “shacket” — is the trendy winter jacket that’s fast becoming a wardrobe must-have.
Highly versatile, the overshirt can be worn as an extra layer indoors to feel warm and cozy while working from home or outdoors as a light jacket, for a quick run to the coffee shop or grocery store. It is the best winter jacket for the season. Retailers understood this trend and have been increasing stock of this multifunctional piece.
Retviews data show that between 2019 and 2020, the number of overshirts produced increased by almost 200%. Zara, the world’s number-one retailer, has taken the lead in this category. The boost in production and popularity of versatile items like the overshirt demonstrates retailers’ reaction to the coronavirus crisis: making multitasking garments wearable inside and outside.
Additionally, in terms of pricing, overshirts are less expensive than traditional outdoor clothing. Indeed, wool overcoats, parkas, puffers, and trench coats all tend to fall at a higher price point. The lower cost of overshirts is in line with the more casual, affordable, and, comfortable style customers are looking for during this unprecedented time.
On a side note, Zara’s overshirt entry price is lower than at H&M, which comes as a surprise — and Zara’s price point is closer to the market entry price. However, when we look at the most frequent price, the Spanish retailer offers overshirts at an overall higher price point than H&M.
Based on Retviews data, we saw Zara offers a broader variety of styles at a broader price range than its competitors — giving it a serious advantage.
Polyester still rules in outerwear – but for how long?
Sustainability is an increasingly important challenge for the fashion industry. Over the last few years, the focus on environmentally sound practices and the use of more eco-friendly fabrics has grown, and the shift toward a more sustainable industry has accelerated with the current coronavirus crisis.
However, Retviews data show that polyester remains the most-used fabric for outerwear. This could be due to its relatively low cost and numerous properties that make the synthetic material suitable for all outdoor garments.
Moreover, the top three fabrics utilized in the production of outerwear are polyester, wool, and nylon. It comes as no surprise that wool is among the top three most-used fabrics for outdoor pieces, as a large number of coats are made primarily of wool.
However, two out of these three fabrics are petroleum-based and known to expel microparticles into the ocean. With the increased production and popularity of garments like overshirts in 2020, should we expect to see an overall increase in wool use and a decrease in polyester?
The future of outerwear in an uncertain year
The number of articles released this year in the outdoor category is, so far, very similar to the number released in 2019. Is this part of a “more variety, less quantity” strategy? Or is it a miscalculation coming from overly optimistic retailers?
Moreover, there are more outdoor articles yet to come. Perhaps this year will be a great promotional opportunity for consumers — and more challenging for retailers.
We don’t know what will happen in the future, especially with the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to spread worldwide. The announcement of negatively impacted financial reports begins to normalize.
However, fashion brands continue to produce, encouraging consumers to dream of a future without the virus — hopefully sooner rather than later.